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ISLAMABAD: Amid pandemonium in the National Assembly, chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday endorsed the long-standing demand of opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to form a high-powered judicial commission to hold a probe into May 9 riots.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Bilawal said that he endorsed Ali Amin Gandapur’s demand to form a judicial commission to investigate the May 9 riots – a call made by the newly-elected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Gandapur who had demanded the top judge of the country to probe into May 9 riots through a judicial commission.

The PPP chairman endorsed Gandapur’s demands but he did insist that the result of the judicial commission should be accepted by everyone including the PTI.

‘Those behind May 9 riots have now attacked Parliament’: Marriyum

“We cannot forget the attacks on the monuments and memorials of our martyrs. We cannot take our politics forward unless the issue is addressed and this is the reason I would like to request the prime minister and Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa to form the commission,” he added.

Bilawal continued that a thorough probe into the May 9 riots would make things clear, adding those in the riots if found guilty should be punished and those proved innocent must be released.

He also backed PM Sharif’s call for a charter of national reconciliation and charter of economy, saying this could lead to the resolution of at least 90 percent of the issues confronting the country.

He said that the collection of sales tax on services of all the provinces defeats that of the federal government, adding “we perform, and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) fails each time.”

“The FBR has been collecting the sales tax on goods till now. The provinces should be given the responsibility to collect the sales tax on goods. We should set a target for the collection of the tax, and if it is not met, the provinces can account for the gap through their own budget,” he proposed.

He also called for judicial and electoral reforms, saying if issues pertaining to judiciary and elections matters are addressed once for all, no power in the world can weaken the democracy in the country.

About the cypher controversy, he said that if Imran Khan himself had not accepted on television that he lost his copy, one would consider the opposition’s excuse that the responsibility lies solely with the bureaucrats.

“Imran Khan himself admitted that he lost a confidential, national security document of the Government of Pakistan, which is encrypted. The enemy of Pakistan can crack the code of the country, and break into all the other cyphers,” he added.

Meanwhile, PTI lawmaker Asad Qaiser called for the constitution of a judicial commission to investigate the cypher controversy.

Khan was sentenced on the cases that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had termed as lies, Qaiser said while taking a jibe at Shehbaz Sharif-led party.

Lamenting the alleged crackdown on party leadership and workers, the former NA speaker stressed that the PTI founder did not take refuge abroad – in the wake of the crackdown and legal woes – and will not compromise on his principles.

“Neither our leader nor we would compromise,” he added while calling for the party leadership to be released along with the withdrawal of cases filed against top leadership, including Imran Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi.

In response to Bilawal’s remarks calling for stakeholders to sit together, Qaiser questioned whether the PPP supremo was unaware of the worst election rigging in the country’s history in the February 8 polls.

He asserted that neither his leader Imran Khan nor the party would bow down.

“I want to make this crystal clear that time of fear has gone. We have come out of all situations headstrong,” he declared.

Qaiser also demanded that the Supreme Court constitute a judicial commission on the cypher controversy, which is at the heart of the PTI’s allegation of foreign involvement in the party’s ouster.

“Our party’s stance on it is clear that the Supreme Court should constitute a judicial commission,” he said, lamenting that cypher was used as the basis of Imran’s conviction and subsequent punishment.

Qaiser further stated that a judicial commission should be formed to probe allegations of rigging in the Feb 8 polls.

“We want to invite all those parties that have concerns about these elections, whether they are Balochistan’s political parties or Sindh’s or Punjab or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s.

“We will bring everyone together for the Constitution’s supremacy, for an independent judiciary, for civilian supremacy,” the PTI leader added.

PTI chairman Gohar Ali Khan termed the prime minister’s election – which saw Shehbaz emerging victorious – “a sad day for democracy in the country”.

“None of us imagined that such a person would be elected, that the switch of Pakistan’s atomic power would be handed over to someone who does not have a public mandate and has been in power for four decades,” he said.

Bilawal’s speech was marred by intense sloganeering from PTI-backed lawmakers who chanted “go Zardari go,” prompting several warnings from NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, but all fell on deaf ears.

Earlier, members of the treasury benches greeted newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif as PTI-backed lawmakers chanted slogans of “Shame!Shame!”.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui while responding to rigging allegations regarding February 8 polls, said: “You were made to lose in 2024 elections the same way you [PTI] were made to win in the 2018 elections.

“Someone else would force the politicians to sit together if political forces do not engage in dialogue themselves,” he claimed.

To this, the PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) members once again resorted to protests and sloganeering to which Siddiqui said: “They don’t understand and are getting angry when I’m talking in their favour.”

All the political parties condemned the raid at the residence of Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chairman Mahmood Khan Achakzai in Quetta and demanded to probe the matter.

Achakzai said that his 200 relatives and friends had died in the fight inflicted upon his house for the last 15 years. He said the political parties would have to sit together to rescue the country out of the crisis.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Aslam Tanoli Mar 05, 2024 10:32am
Who takes bilawal serious?
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